By Linda Cole
The learning process begins the minute we are born, and it’s the same with puppies. Behaviors that pups are allowed to develop – both good and bad – will follow them into adulthood, and it’s much easier to deal with behavioral issues at a young age. Our job is to bond with and love a puppy, but we are also responsible for discipline and teaching him how we want him to behave. Even dogs have life experiences that mold their perspective and attitude about their environment, people and events they will encounter. The life lessons a puppy should learn will follow him into adulthood and create a more stable and self confident dog who is better equipped to handle whatever life throws his way.
Behavioral issues in adult dogs are often rooted in lessons not learned at an early age. If a puppy isn’t given adequate opportunity to learn how to react to different experiences, he will have a harder time discerning what is safe and what isn’t. An aggressive or anxious response based in fear is best addressed at a young age. Puppies learn through positive and negative experiences how to react to different situations. When a pup is allowed to develop behavior that won’t be acceptable when he’s older, like jumping up on people or protecting his food, bad habits left unchecked will likely become a lifelong issue and harder to correct when he’s older.
Pups should be introduced to people of all ages, different sounds, sights, and situations when they are between the age of 6-14 weeks. This is when a puppy can best develop his own perception of his world and learn how to react appropriately.
By Linda Cole
Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1904 for his work on the digestive system of mammals. He is famous for his revelation in classical conditioning. Pavlov discovered by accident that the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab assistants. They would salivate when any of the assistants entered the room whether they had food or not. It was a response to a stimuli and something the dogs learned on their own. Classical conditioning was the first step in beginning to understand how dogs think.
From the beginning of the 1900s up to the 1960s, scientists focused on dog behavior, but they lost interest and didn’t resume studying canines until the beginning of the 21st century. For the last 14 years, scientists have found a renewed interest in canine research to better understand a dog’s body language – including subtle signs they use, how they think, how they learn, the emotions they feel, how they view their world, and what they like. As we learn more about why dogs behave in certain ways, we have a better understanding of the canine mind and what dogs think about.
Of course, the answer to the question of what dogs think about is as complex as it is in determining what humans think about. We don’t have the ability to get inside the mind of another person to understand precisely what’s going on in their mind, nor can you really understand what your dog is thinking about when he’s staring at you. I know from personal experience how good some dogs are at problem solving, especially if they are trying to figure out a way to escape from their enclosure or steal food behind your back.
By Linda Cole
“Object permanence” is a term created by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. It’s the ability to understand that an object continues to exist even if it disappears. It may be gone from view, but we know it still exits even though we can’t see, touch, smell or hear it. This concept is an important development of awareness that human babies learn at around 18-24 months.
Researchers have discovered that dogs also understand the concept of object permanence, and it occurs earlier in canines than it does in humans. Puppies can understand the concept as early as 5 weeks. It’s easiest to see when you watch how dogs react to magic tricks.
Object permanence is not an ability that humans or dogs are born with. It’s a learned perception of awareness that comes from processing the existence of a stimulus while it is present. One summer a chipmunk set up an underground home inside my dog pen. I wasn’t aware of it, but noticed that my dog, Dozer, kept nosing around in one corner of the pen. It was obvious a smell had his interest, but he acted more curious than anything else. That is, until he caught sight of the chipmunk scurrying into his hole. Once he saw the critter disappear into the hole, his terrier heritage kicked in. Even though he couldn’t see the chipmunk, he knew it was in that hole. I’m sure it was Dozer’s persistent digging that caused the chipmunk to move his home to a safer location.
By Linda Cole
Dogs love chasing each other, playing fetch or racing around at full speed, twisting and turning as they run. Play is a good way for dogs to get rid of excess energy, but it’s also how they can pick up an injury. Some of the most common injuries can sideline your pet, or at least slow him down a bit.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissues are the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Dogs can slip on snow or ice or step in a hole while running. Quick turns or stops, leaping or jumping off or over something can pull a muscle, stretch a tendon or tear a ligament. Just jumping off the couch or bed can cause an injury. We may think of dogs as being athletic and surefooted, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Whenever your dog is racing around the yard chasing a ball or another dog, or training for a dog sport, there’s always the potential for a soft tissue injury.
If you notice your pet limping, that’s a sure sign something is wrong. It could be nothing more than a rock caught between his toes or paw pads, but it could also be a soft tissue injury. If you’ve checked his feet and don’t find any cuts or anything else that could be causing him to limp, it’s best to have your vet check him out. Many strains and sprains are minor and can be cared for by limiting his activity, but some can be serious and require medical attention.
By Linda Cole
The best way to create behavioral problems is to keep an animal caged up inside a home or at a zoo with nothing exciting to occupy their time. Environmental enrichment grew from a need to give zoo animals a more interesting and stimulating place to live that would improve their mental attitude as well as their physical wellbeing. It’s a concept that can easily be used to benefit bored dogs and cats.
A regular routine is important for pets. They like knowing “what’s next.” However, adding different things into the mix periodically gives them something new to look forward to. We take vacations, go to the movies, entertain guests, read, listen to music, and find other activities to break up our normal routine. While many dog owners include their pet on getaways where dogs are allowed, cats are usually left at home. Enriching your pet’s environment is not that difficult to do, and well worth the time and effort when your pet is stimulated by new discoveries. Even dogs and cats like to do something different once in awhile.
I ran across a video of a dog listening to his owner playing a guitar. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he was grinning as he listened. But he was also bobbing his head to the music. As soon as the music stopped, the dog closed his mouth, stopped moving his head, and gave a look that said, “Why did you stop?” As soon as his owner began strumming, the dog bobbed his head and grinned to show his appreciation. Most pets enjoy listening to music, as long as it isn’t too loud. Some dogs and cats like to listen to the radio, which can enrich their environment.
By Linda Cole
The paws are not usually the first thing we notice when looking at a dog. Some canines have wide paws while others have more slender feet, and some have webbing between their toes. Over the centuries, the anatomy of dog paws adapted to the environment the dogs lived and worked in, to make it possible for them to do the jobs they were bred to do. Here are some amazing facts about dog paws you may not know.
A dog’s paw consists of five parts:
1. The claws, which give dogs a good grip on a surface
2. Digital pads, directly under the toes
3. The metacarpal pad, directly under the digital pads
4. The dewclaw
5. The carpal pad located on the front paws at the back of the foot